Sgt. Stephen Collison had been employed by the Sheriff’s Office for 11 years.
SARASOTA COUNTY — A Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office supervisor chose to resign rather than be questioned about "sex on duty."
A complaint about misconduct was filed with the agency on Feb. 18 by the husband of a Sarasota woman who said that Sgt. Stephen Collison and his wife were "engaged in inappropriate sexual contact" while he was on duty as a patrol sergeant.
Internal Affairs chief Lt. Mike Mercurio met with the complainant who told him that his wife admitted that she had an inappropriate relationship while Collison was working, but she was hesitant to provide an audio-taped statement about the allegations. Her husband provided text messages indicating an affair between his wife and Collison.
Both the man and his wife declined Mercurio’s requests to provide sworn statements.
The text messages included apologies between Collison and his family and the woman and her spouse. None of the messages specifically described the incident, which allegedly happened Jan. 29.
Part of a message from the man’s wife, said, "I am truly sorry for the pain that I have caused you. I don’t expect forgiveness. I just want to express how terrible I feel and that I am really sorry."
A message from Collison’s family said he told them everything.
Collison sent a message to the woman’s husband saying he was "very sorry" and that he betrayed his wife and the man "who I always considered a friend."
"I wish I could take it all back," Collison wrote.
A GPS log of Collison’s patrol vehicle shows he was at the woman’s house Jan. 29 between 12:06 a.m. and 12:58 a.m. while he was working a 12-hour shift.
Mercurio met with Collison to place him on administrative leave pending an investigation into misconduct and indicated would attempt to interview Collision and his wife.
Collison resigned from the department, which prevented a formal interview. He immediately turned in his badge, weapon, tasers, sheriff’s identification cards, keys and other department-issued equipment.
Mercurio concluded that since he could not speak to individuals involved there was not enough information to sustain allegations of misconduct. There were no witnesses to the alleged act and all parties involved declined to provide statements.
Sheriff Tom Knight said the Florida Department of Law Enforcement was contacted and notified of the internal investigation to be sure it was documented properly.
"They know when they sign up about these things," said Knight, noting it isn’t the first allegation of "sex on duty" in his 34 years in law enforcement. "It goes on in all industries but law enforcement has a high expectation. You’re supposed to be on duty. It doesn’t prohibit officers from having relationships when they are not on duty. But when people are on duty, they are expected to be protecting the public."
In Collison’s resignation letter to Knight, he wrote, "It is with profound dismay, and a heavy heart, that I wish to inform you of my immediate resignation from the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office. For the past 11 and quarter years I have been proud to serve as a deputy and sergeant for the premier law enforcement agency in Sarasota County. The camaraderie and team focus between, and among, my fellow deputies made my tenure thoroughly enjoyable and rewarding. And, through leadership and guidance of the command staff our agency and community will always be well-served."